The Other Pastor Kilian

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Pastor Hermann Kilian on January 21, 1920.

The church that Pastor Kilian served (along with his father, Pastor Jan Kilian, and his brother, Teacher Gerhard Kilian) still stands today in Serbin.

But there’s another Kilian that followed in the footsteps of Gerhard, Hermann, and Jan in serving the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

The Rev. Theodore J. Kilian, son of Hermann Kilian, also served as pastor at a church in Lee County.

But that church is long gone.

A few miles southeast of Giddings you’ll find the cemetery that served Bethany Lutheran Church of Greens Creek, along with a couple of historical markers.

Bethany was one of many congregations that got off the ground with the help of the Rev. Gottfried Buchschacher of Holy Cross in Warda. But unlike its sisters such as Immanuel Lutheran in Giddings and St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Winchester, Bethany struggled.

The congregation was organized in 1895. Pastor Theodore Kilian accepted the call to serve them in 1918, and served until his death at the young age of 34 in 1925 (only a little over five years after the death of his father).

After the death of Pastor Kilian, the church never had another full-time pastor, and was served by vicars and pastors of neighboring congregations until finally disbanding in 1964.

I’ve talked to one person who has memories of Bethany Lutheran Church– Ted Zoch of Austin. He recalled visiting Bethany when he was in school to raise money for Concordia Austin.

One of the strongest memories of that visit (besides the enthusiastic way in which Bethany’s members supported Concordia Austin) was that before each hymn, the organist would play through an entire verse of the hymn, and then to signal that it was time to start singing, would execute a glissando up and down the entire keyboard (I’m imagining Jerry Lee Lewis-style here).

This photograph is from a visit Margie and I made to the site of Bethany Lutheran Church in September 2018.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *